I’m in a love-hate relationship. Alone. The recipient of my roller coaster emotions: Zooey Deschanel.
She is an actress, singer, writer, and an all-around adorable person. Zooey stole and broke hearts in 500 Days of Summer, casually crooned in an indie band, and started a blog known as HelloGiggles. Most recently, she found success in her show New Girl, which beat out its competitors in ratings this week. She, again, plays a cute and quirky character. OK. Stop. I get it. You’re unique–see above picture.
When my friends and I discuss my apparent lone conflict of loving her and hating her for all she’s done, they look at me like I’ve threatened to kick a puppy. There is genuine pain and shame in their eyes. I decided to set my issues aside to understand how and why Zooey Deschanel has gotten my friends so 500 Days of Obsessed (Author’s note: Yes, I went there. No, I will not actually be analyzing 500 tweets).
Zooey’s Twitter currently has over 3 million followers and over 3,000 tweets. It is mostly filled with promotional tweets regarding her show: “Hey west coast! #NEWGIRL is on in 5 minutes!” She also publicly supports her friends by @ mentions and RT’s and posts photos occasionally on Instagram. In between these tweets, Zooey entertains her followers with her famous New Girl/quirky/hipster humor:
That tweet can be an example of prestige. As Hugo Liu explains,there are four types of taste statements: prestige, differentiation, authenticity and theatrical persona. Zooey’s Twitter handle shows that she walks a line between “prestige” and “authenticity.” Liu describes prestige as “always performed so as to appeal to some group of people” and authenticity as “associated with a relaxed style and the display of slight imperfection.” The mentioned tweet embodies prestige in that it was meant to appeal to her followers, and it upholds her identity, or reputation as the funny girl. After all, where does she begin? Other than that she is from somewhere pretty awesome… Other examples of her prestige taste statements exist in her posting New Girl related pictures or tweets. She is appealing to the group of New Girl fans in her followers.
Social media is crucial for all celebrities because not only is it means of humanizing yourself and connecting with the true fans, but it is also an opportunity to market yourself as a brand. The “fun” behind-the-scenes picture is not exclusively an authentic maneuver, it is prestigious :
The above screenshot is in response to an Instagram picture she posted while on set. Clearly, the people that respond to these types of posts are the fans of the show. This is not to dismiss the possibility that Zooey Deschanel created the post out of genuine want to share the amusement on set. Liu’s taste statements are not exclusive.
The authenticity is visible in the basic of her Twitter account. “zooey deschanel.” Not Zooey Deschanel. The casual and relaxed style that Liu describes as a primary characteristic of authenticity. Her Twitter feed has a consistent feel in that all tweets appear to be generated by her, rather than a slew of publicists, assistants or agents. Zooey’s writing style stays consistent, and shows that she engages in conversations with others, my personal favorite:
Even in the tweets that can be categorized as “authentic” statements are humorous, light-hearted and very G-rated. Zooey does not use profanities or post on taboo subjects. Her entire profile is edited to fit her audience. Marwick and boyd describe the audience in I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately by stating “This audience is often imagined and constructed by an individual in order to present themselves appropriately, based on technological affordances and immediate social context” (2). She is the star of a tame comedy show on FOX–Zooey is not a controversial figure and she is not looking for shock value. Her audience? According to her tweets, it would be fans of the show, her band or people that have interest in HelloGiggles.
Twitter, which some may view as a personal preview into a celebrity’s life, is actually still a performance. As mentioned earlier, there is an audience that Zooey Deschanel is catering to. Marwick explains Goffman’s theory of “front stage” and “backstage” where the front stage “consists of scenarios in which a face is presented publicly” while the backstage “takes place in private spaces reserved for group members” (7). In this case, we may accidently identify Twitter as the “private space” and a status as her follower as being a “group member.” Due to the “personal” and “authentic” pieces seen in Zooey’s Twitter account, it may be easy to mistake the account as her backstage. The RT’s and promotions on her Twitter account further reinforce the idea that this account is a front stage performance. This is to target the fans and followers, who are a part of her “imagined audience.”
This analysis has left me inconclusive on my feelings on Zooey Deschanel. Twitter is not an appropriate format to understand her completely, as it is likely that most of it has been edited or censored for the audience. Her Twitter has most likely been limited, also, by her need to fit a taste profile as a public figure. Twitter is a medium that we are not used to seeing her in, but it does not mean that the performance of being “zooey deschanel” has not continued.